I n April, the New Jersey Institute of Technology launched the New Jersey Innovation Institute. In July, the Department of Defense announced a $5.6 million dollar award to support the Institute’s first initiative, MarketShift, a statewide cluster development effort in defense and aerospace. Strategic Doing provides a key framework for the new NJII.

NJII Logo

NJIT’s MarketShift initiative includes a partnership with Purdue and Fraunhofer IAO to apply our concept of Innovation Acceleration Networks as a foundation for cluster development. Over the past year, a Purdue-Fraunhofer team, under the leadership of PCRD and the College of Technology, has been designing Innovation Acceleration Networks. These networks represent a low risk, agile, and low cost approach to strengthen the innovation ecosystem surrounding U.S. universities.

Innovation Acceleration Networks are designed to address a major challenge facing U.S. Research universities: how to generate new streams of cash from the university’s existing research assets. Research universities are very adept at converting money – – primarily government grants – – into knowledge. US universities are less adept at taking that knowledge and converting it into money. That’s where Fraunhofer comes in. A global leader in applied research, Fraunhofer, a network of over 60 research institutes, grows through a business model of “market facing” research. The Purdue-Fraunhofer team has been exploring how market-facing principles can be applied in a lean and flexible way to US universities.=

An Innovation Acceleration Network borrows the idea of a “core lab” from the biosciences. The core lab provides research infrastructure that can be shared by number research labs. So, for example, an animal lab might be considered part of a core lab. Or, through a core lab many research labs can share an expensive piece of specialized equipment.

In the same way, the Innovation Acceleration Network is organized around a core lab. Within the core lab, researchers can gain quick access to tools, frameworks, collaborative platforms and training that will accelerate their research.

So, for example, Fraunhofer IAO has developed MarketExplorer, a semantic search engine and research protocol capable of identifying multiple promising markets for an existing technology. A similar search platform and protocol, TechnologyRadar, identifies potentially useful or disruptive technologies within a specific product market. NJIT, through its MarketShift initiative will become a partner with Purdue and Fraunhofer, in deploying these new approaches through a core lab within the new Innovation Institute.

The core lab can, in turn, support a wide range of virtual innovation labs, or i-Labs, in which industry and university researchers address specific innovation challenges. These I-labs are custom designed to meet the specific needs of one or more business firms. In the case of cluster development, the eye labs provide a research infrastructure to support the continued development of the cluster.

Innovation requires sophisticated, strategic collaboration, and that’s where PCRD’s work in agile strategy enters the picture.

The New Jersey Innovation Institute will become an anchor in a growing international network of universities that are adopting the disciplines of Strategic Doing.  The MarketShift initiative will follow these new strategy disciplines.

Ed Morrison is Director of the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. For the past five or six years, he has been developing new, agile approaches to strategy in open, loosely joined networks, a discipline he calls Strategic Doing. Prior to starting his economic development work, Ed worked for Telesis, a corporate strategy consulting firm. In this position, he served on consulting teams for clients such as Ford Motor Company, Volvo, and General Electric. He conducted manufacturing cost studies in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and France. Ed started his professional career in Washington, D.C., where he has served as a legislative assistant to an Ohio Congressman, staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission, and staff counsel in the US Senate. He holds a BA degree cum laude with honors from Yale University and MBA and JD degrees from the University of Virginia.

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